The 2022 NBA trade deadline just expired, and the league is still reeling from the ramifications of what was a crazy finish. Chaos ruled the last day of deals with superstars, future draft picks and championship hopefuls all hotly mixed in the equation.
Every team involved thought they won, but that’s not always the case.With the deadline all part of NBA history this season, it’s time to weigh in on who nailed it and who dropped the ball.
One trade has consistently grabbed the headlines since the preseason started, while others just seemingly popped out of nowhere. The dust of the wild wheeling and dealing is just starting to settle down, and the inevitable winners and losers are already emerging.
Here are three winners and losers of one of the craziest trade deadlines in recent history.
3: Dennis Schroder
Dennis Schroder reportedly refused the LA Lakers’ offer of $84 million for four years in the 2021 offseason. With the market getting cold, he eventually signed for the Boston Celtics for $5.9 million.Schroder had a prominent role for the Green Machine as their best player off the bench. With the way he has been playing for a potentially playoff-bound team, he was lining himself up for a big payday in the next NBA offseason.
TheGermanyinternational is now with the Houston Rockets, who have a surplus of perimeter players they are prioritizing to develop. The Rockets are even sacrificing wins this season just to make sure that they can fast-track the improvement of their young core.It remains to be seen where and how Schroder can fit in.
If the Houston Rockets are steadfast with their strategy this season, Schroder’s role could be minimal and could even cost him in the offseason.
2: Los Angeles Lakers
The LA Lakers rolled the dice with Russell Westbrook and failed in epic proportions. Rob Pelinka tried to do his best to correct the mistake, but the Lakers didn’t have the assets or a willing trade partner. How bad the LA Lakers have been this NBA season was embodied in their loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Blazers just traded their best players and did not have Damian Lillard in the game.As painful as the Lakers’ situation has been this season, it’s even more painful to think about what they could have been.
The deal to get Westbrook put them in a bind from which they desperately wanted to escape but could not do so. Imagine for a second what they could have accomplished with a more balanced and younger lineup.The NBA season is long, and the LA Lakers could still turn the season around. However, reports of the Lakers’ desire to trade Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and Westbrook himself without any takers is an indictment of their failure.
1: Russell Westbrook
The triple-double king jumped at the opportunity to play in Los Angeles and ball with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Even before the campaign started, there were fears about how he would fit in with the Lakers lineup and style of play.
With the way Russell Westbrook has played this season, that dread has become a reality.The 33-year-old has already been benched twice in the closing minutes of a game, which goes to show how far he has fallen. The former NBA MVP and one of the league’s most versatile players has been reduced to a cheerleading role for the LA Lakers. The Hollywood squad couldn’t even let a $44 million superstar on the floor to help the team win.
Westbrook has now been consecutively traded in the last few offseasons. He could very well be out of Hollywood if the Lakers can find a good deal.
1: Ben Simmons
Regardless of the circumstances, saving millions in potential fines and getting back on an NBA court is a win. Before the trade, Ben Simmons was fined millions by the Philadelphia 76ers for refusing to play. The trade stops the fines and puts him back where he truly belongs – on a basketball court.Simmons’ situation in Brooklyn could be tailor-made for him.
The Nets will ask him to play to his strengths, which are his defense and playmaking.Brooklyn’s defensive issues get a major shot in the arm with the versatile Australian in the lineup. He will also allow Steve Nash how to be creative with his lineup.
Nash could roll out Simmons, Kevin Durant, Patty Mills, Seth Curry and Kyrie Irving for a few minutes. The 24-year-old point guard’s size will help them on defense, while his playmaking, with four shooters surrounding him, will be highlighted.Aside from getting out of Philly, he could also help give Brooklyn its first NBA title while playing alongside Durant and Irving. It’s a win by any stretch of the imagination.
2: James Harden
James Harden could have never imagined the whole drama surrounding the Brooklyn Nets this season. He also likely never thought he’d play like a shadow of himself early in the campaign, which only fueled the never-ending controversy surrounding the team.At some point, the distractions and uncertainties took their toll and forced “The Beard” to retreat to his own self.When engaged, even a hobbled Harden is still someone to contend with. He showed it in the semifinals last season against the Milwaukee Bucks, where his hamstrings were failing him.
The only city that’s probably not dissing him right now is Philadelphia, where he could form a potentially devastating tandem with the NBA’s leading scorer, Joel Embiid.Harden’s huge contract could become a head-splitting headache for the Sixers down the road. However, if the former MVP can help deliver a championship in the next two to three years, it’ll be worth the trouble.
3: Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers
Simmons refused to play for the Sixers despite millions in fines and could have wasted Joel Embiid’s MVP level season.The Nets, on the other hand, got a firsthand look at a discontented Harden, which isn’t a pretty sight. The 32-year-old’s frustrations were so apparent that he hardly showed any effort when he was on the floor. Only a nagging hamstring issue saved him from appearing more in Shaqtin’ a Fool.It remains to be seen how the exchange will benefit both teams immediately this season, but it solves a glaring problem on both sides.A Nets-76ers Eastern Conference Finals would guarantee a spike in NBA ratings.